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Scrum Master conducting 1-1

Last post 01:16 pm August 16, 2023 by Jacek Markiewicz
7 replies
03:59 pm August 9, 2023

What do you think about a Scrum Master holding regular 1-1/one-to-one with a team member/stakeholder/manager?

Are those useful? Why?


How should one be conducted?

04:38 pm August 9, 2023

Does the 1-1 constraint resolve a problem that has arisen, or is it concealing one?

06:09 pm August 9, 2023

I am not against it if it is adding a benefit but that is hard to prove.  Often 1-1 discussions will lead to transparency concerns.  Those not in the discussions want to know why they weren't included and what is being hidden from them.  It is not a great way to instill trust (as you asked about in a different post).  The Scrum Values of Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage are not easily reflected with 1-1 conversations.  Those conversations tend to instill Closeness, Secrecy, Suspicion, Favoritism, Disrespect in the eyes of the individuals not included. 

Even if you have 1-1s with everyone, there is still the human nature to wonder how the 1-1 you have with an individual differs from all the others. 

07:26 am August 10, 2023

Thank you Ian and Daniel for your new perspectives on this topic!


From what I read, if my interpretation is correct, it could completely fine not to have any regular 1-1, but they could occur to address a specific situation/problem/conflict.


Let share my personal view, as of now. The way I was seeing the 1-1 was more a form of regular check-in with people, getting close to them and to know them (e.g. their motivations, needs), especially in a big company with a not so high psychological safety (this could be the real problem to solve, not that easy in a big company I would say) or when some issues/content is not spoken out during Sprint Retrospectives. I find this valuable from a individual morale point of view which, IMHO could improve team/"environment" morale.

IMHO, conducting 1-1 only on need, could trigger a sort of counter-effect: "Why am I be called to this 1-1? Am I going to be fired?" (I personally see stress/tension and fear).

What do you think about my previous thoughts?

10:14 am August 10, 2023

As a Scrum Master we are not in a position to hire and fire. We are not managers of people. I hope reaching out for a conversation would not invoke these thoughts, and if they do, there may be bigger issues to work through within the team and/or organizational culture. 

Would a regular 1-1 be for your benefit or theirs? What do you need to check in on as a Scrum Master?

We want enable courage and openness within the team. How might this be impacted when conversations are taken offline and conducted 1-1, particularly when issues are not spoken at Sprint Retrospectives. Why raise issues at retro, when you can work through the Scrum Master as your broker. Speaking from experience, we want to avoid becoming a people proxy, especially when there are problems or conflicts. These are important skills for a team to develop.

Not saying 1-1 conversations are bad. We may take on a coaching stance as Scrum Master as an example. This may be done at the team level or individually as a 1-1 conversation. You may offer 1-1 teaching. You may just want to have a conversation. All valid. 

You mentioned...

not so high psychological safety (this could be the real problem to solve, not that easy in a big company I would say)

Agreed. Not easy, and could be the real problem to solve. This is where Scrum Master courage kicks in. Where we need to do the right thing and take on tough problems. How might you improve the environment for psychological safety within the Scrum Team? Using retrospective as an example, this should be a safe space for the Scrum Team to talk openly. What prevents this from happening today?




01:59 am August 14, 2023

One to one meeting might create doubts, confusions and mis-understandings within the team. Transparency is imp. Normally, I conduct One-to-One meeting if I think the person needs individual mentoring to develop a continuous learning mindset. 

12:01 pm August 14, 2023

I Am not that big of a fan of a 1 to 1 conversation as a scrum master. if it can be said to one then it can be said to the team. I know that some time part of the Team is better at understanding some agile tool then others. but then I think it is a joined adventure for the scrum master with the team to make that tool understandable by the whole team or make changes to that tool so that it fits to the whole team instead of parts of it. 

though 1 to 1 as a manager is a whole other talk to have and could mean many things for the individual.

01:16 pm August 16, 2023

Let's imagine the scrum team being like a family. Of course, having time all together is lovely and makes the family grow together. But it doesn't mean that having a fishing trip(s) with your son is not beneficial. Especially when you feel that you or he or both need it for some reason.

Still, before you go on the trip you would think of the whole family's feelings and make sure they don't feel left out. If you have been doing a good job as a parent most likely nobody would feel that way.

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